By Dave Simpson
-- LSI this week became one of the few vendors shipping RAID arrays with 8Gbps Fibre Channel host connections with the introduction of its Engenio 4900 array, which can also be configured with 1Gbps iSCSI host connections for SAN tiering.
Other vendors shipping disk arrays with 8Gbps Fibre Channel host connections include Infortrend, Rorke Data (a subsidiary of Bell Micro) and Xyratex, and a slew of 8Gbps Fibre Channel announcements are expected over the next two months.
Steve Gardner, LSI's director of outbound marketing, says that most end users will view 8Gbps Fibre Channel connectivity as "future-proof investment protection," but some application environments may need the 2X speed improvement today, including users trying to stream large files and IT organizations that are consolidating servers and have large numbers of virtual machines (VMs). Other potential applications include OLTP, Web serving, messaging and high-speed backups, according to Gardner.
In addition, Gardner notes that with 8Gbps Fibre Channel end users can reduce the number of HBAs and SAN ports required in order to reduce overall costs – up to 45% savings in SAN infrastructure costs, according to Gardner.
The mid-range Engenio 4900 includes controller modules and FC460 drive enclosures. The 4900 controller module supports up to 16 Fibre Channel, SATA or self-encrypting drives (SEDs), sometimes referred to as full disk encryption (FDE) drives. The controller module also supports up to six additional 16-drive FC4600 enclosures for a total of 112 drives. LSI offers SafeStor Encryption Services for use with SED/FDE drives.
The disk arrays have four 8Gbps Fibre Channel host interfaces, with four additional 8Gbps Fibre Channel or 1Gbps iSCSI interfaces, 2GB or 4GB of cache, and four 4Gbps Fibre Channel drive channels.
LSI claims performance of more than 50,000 I/Os per second (IOPS) on random reads with 512-byte blocks, and throughput of 1.6GBps on sustained reads from disk.
Optional software functionality includes encryption, partitioning, snapshots, volume copy, and remote volume mirroring.
LSI also supports 8Gbps Fibre Channel host connections on its high-end Engenio 7900 disk arrays. Both the 4900 and 7900 support VMware features such as VSphere 4.0 Data Recovery and Fault Tolerance, VMware Consolidated Backup (VCB), and Site Recovery Manager (SRM).